Recent U.S. Marine Corps deployments deep into Afghanistan for operation Enduring Freedom have demonstrated the service's growing digitalization. As troops disembarked to locations far from their amphibious ships, connectivity was maintained through a variety of mobile communications systems. On the tactical level, Marines used battlefield intranets to coordinate operations and send digital imagery to their commanders in near real time.
Engineers have updated and improved a 60-year-old lens antenna technology to create a low-cost, high-gain steerable microwave antenna for satellite tracking applications. Conceived in 1944, the Luneberg lens currently is being employed to maintain two-way satellite contact when a satellite, a receiver or both are moving.
Rapid changes in both technology and U.S. military missions are mandating that information systems plans be comprehensive as well as flexible. Within this transformational environment, most organizations recognize the need for strategic plans that improve their ability to accomplish their goals; however, many times these plans fail to achieve the desired results.
Battlefield information systems, both in use today and being designed for the future, have gone beyond being a force multiplier to become a cornerstone of military operations. The technology of today, along with that being prototyped for tomorrow, means timely response to execute the commander's intent and timely and accurate response to the individual warfighter.
The U.S. Navy is launching a new initiative that expands the concept of network-centric warfare from the purely technical world to the operations doctrine domain. The paradigm will affect every aspect of the Navy-from acquisition processes to transportation, from information sharing to targeting. Military leaders believe this new approach will increase combat effectiveness and better support joint and coalition operations.
Researchers are investigating the use of alternative radio transmission methods for military information systems. A recently launched program examines the use of ultrawideband technology in robust, scalable communications devices and networks, in radar and in collision avoidance sensors.
High-temperature superconducting materials discovered only 15 years ago now are enabling signal filters that can achieve performance levels not even approached by conventional filters. Virtually any commercial or military system that must pull weak radio frequency signals out of background noise can benefit from the new technology.
An event that has become a staple of advancements in military technology has undergone an evolution and now aims at providing theater commanders with immediate solutions to operational interoperability problems before systems move into the field and are tested under fire-live fire.
Before September 11, only a few brave organizations were dedicated to authorizing and funding programs to test advanced technologies for state and federal disaster first responders and train key personnel in their use. For scenarios involving weapons of mass destruction, even fewer offered unclassified-level training in the skills and technology needed by law enforcement and health care personnel. Among those few are the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory's Homeland Defense Technology Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico; the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs, Washington, D.C.; and the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro. In times of crisis, it has been their experts who arrived on the scene toting a combination of "Men in Black" suitcase technology and advanced supercomputing capabilities to assist the nation's first responders.
A recently developed technology will allow military and local community first responders to take advantage of all available communications assets. The gateway-bridging equipment provides interoperability between commercial and military networks. Specialized military network cards support the connectivity to tactical equipment, allowing commercial traffic to travel over those assets.